Injury-plagued Liverpool have been given a boost in their battle for the Premier League title with forward Diogo Jota’s return, manager Juergen Klopp said on Friday ahead of a game against Newcastle United.
Jota, 27, lost eight matches due to a muscle injury, but made a remarkable comeback on Tuesday, coming off the bench and scoring in the 90th minute to send Liverpool to the top of the league with a 2-0 win at Burnley.
Klopp said the Portugal international’s return to the side would help them stay competitive with Mohamed Salah set to miss games due to the African Cup of Nations.
“Each one of the boys is super important but Diogo especially…,” Klopp told reporters ahead of the game at Anfield.
“He’s a very smart player. He knows the game particularly well. He sees situations slightly faster, to adapt to different things your opponent is doing. On top of that he’s both-footed, a great finisher.
“He’s back and I hope he’s back for the next 10 years. But he missed chances as well. He comes back and scores with the first he had. But it’s about coming into situations and then they all can score.”
The German manager added that midfielder Alexis Mac Allister could appear against Newcastle after a spell on the sidelines.
“Macca (MacAllister) we will see what he can do today. I didn’t see the doctor yet, we will see,” Klopp said.
“(Andy Robertson) Robbo still needs more range in his shoulder. Still not close to training or whatever.”
HOWE NOT UNDER PRESSURE
Liverpool face a struggling Newcastle side who have exited the Champions League and League Cup in recent weeks and were given a 3-1 defeat by Nottingham Forest in their last league outing.
While many or their problems can be traced to a punishing fixture schedule and lengthy injury list, manager Eddie Howe has come under pressure to find answers for their dismal run.
Asked if he felt like there was a focus on him, Howe told reporters: “I feel like I’m always in the spotlight and criticism is part of this job. It goes hand in hand…
“No harm but I blank it out and do what I can to help the players. That won’t change.”
Following their tough test against Liverpool at Anfield, Newcastle’s next league games are against winners Manchester City and third-placed Aston Villa.
“Tough games coming up but we enjoy them. We will attack it and give it our best shot…,” Howe said.
“We’ll need to be near perfect (vs Liverpool). It’s a really tough game. They’ve been playing at well at home, very consistent. We need to re-find our best form.”